Hard work is just what the Doctor ordered
Two-a-day football practices are usually associated with the dog days of summer when thousands of players work to get in shape in an attempt to prove their worth.
Shrine Bowl Fact Box
WHAT: High school all-star football game
WHO: South Carolina vs. North Carolina
WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Gibbs Stadium, Spartanburg
TICKETS: $15 for general admission
And then, there’s two-a-days in December when only the best are on the field, honing their skills to play in a bowl game, the reward for the perfect combination of hard work and talent.
Ashley Ridge running back Romelo Doctor has experienced both scenarios. The talented senior is in Spartanburg this week, preparing to play in the 76th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, an all-star game between the top senior players from South Carolina and North Carolina.
The game will be played at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Doctor knows playing in the oldest high school all-star football game in America is an honor, so he doesn’t mind the extra work.
“It’s really incredible being here,” Doctor said. “There are only 44 players (on the South Carolina team), so you know it’s an elite group. I just want a chance. I just want the ball.”
He’s gotten the ball and produced from Day 1 of his varsity career. As a freshman in the 2009 season opener, Doctor carried only 14 times but gained 214 yards and scored four touchdowns in a win over Johnsonville.
He never slowed down, finishing his career with a whopping 5,045 yards rushing and 59 touchdowns to become the first Ashley Ridge player in the school’s five-year history to be selected to play in the Shrine Bowl.
“My career went by at a crazy pace,” said Doctor, who rushed for 1,450 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior season. “But it was incredible how quickly my senior season went by. It’s been a great experience. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.”
Ashley Ridge coach Kenny Walker is impressed by Doctor’s work ethic.
“He’s really matured as a player and became a role model for the younger players,” the coach said.
“He exemplifies what we want our student-athletes to become. The one thing that stands out is the way he works. I tell coaches who come by to recruit him that he’s never missed a practice. He might have missed one, but I can’t remember it.”
Newberry, Charleston Southern, North Greenville and The Citadel are among the schools looking at Doctor.
The only disappointment in his four-year career might have been the 2012 season. The Swamp Foxes went 10-4 and won the Region 8-AAAA championship in 2011, but slipped to 4-8 in 2012.
“I know Romelo and his senior teammates were disappointed in what happened,” Walker said. “But this group will be looked at as the one that got the program in the right direction.”
Doctor is one of five players from the Lowcountry on the South Carolina squad. Goose Creek has two players — athlete Tramel Terry and defensive lineman Gerald Turner. Timberland also had two picks — defensive back Austin McKinney and defensive lineman Brian Moore.
Hilton Head quarterback Michael Julian and Lake Marion wide receiver Michael Williams also are on the Sandlapper squad.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil